A Deeper Focus


Stephanie Mills – Restoring and Reinhabiting Damaged Land

Stephanie Mills

I am just finishing up reading In Service of the Wild, by Stephanie Mills. I find it absolutely captivating. She makes a compelling case for “Restoring and Reinhabiting Damaged Land”. Ms. Mills may be best known for her collection of essays, Tough Little Beauties, and I have this is on my “to read” list.

Having heard many great teachers explain that humans are really not good at learning via facts and scientific observation. Logic and reason are all good, but rarely change socially agreed upon conventions or entrenched world views. Rather the best way to convince the heart and mind, to truly communicate ideas and teach the big picture, is through story. Humans have learned for millennia through the power of story, about the world, nature, society etc.

The Power of Story

Ms. Mills utilizes the power of story to accomplish the Herculean tasks of explaining what is wrong with our domestication (and destruction) of the vast prairie-lands and hardwood temperate rainforests of North America, why is it imperative that we restore much of it, the history of how this happened, the way to unravel this history to find how it was alive and healthy originally, and finally the path to start to heal it.

Keeping in mind that each of these tasks; The “why”, the “how”, the “what”, and finally the “what to do” are each in themselves complicated, detailed, scientific, subjects that could be the material of dozens of scholarly textbooks, Ms. Mills wraps these complex and technical subjects in a rich tapestry of stories, quotes, poetry, research, wrapped into overlapping and broader layers of stories, and finally tied altogether in to a compelling book/story that is at once completely readable and enjoyable, while leaving the reader sighing with that “I finally get it, this is now clear” feeling.

More About Stephanie Mills

To contribute to the writing of this blog I quickly dove into the Internet to find what I could about Ms. Mills. Here are a few excerpts and links.

  • A quote on Ms. Mills website drew my eye. “I can remember, as a high school dropout in 1969,” writes Gary Nabhan, “picking up a news story about a Mills College commencement address in which a young woman proclaimed the future to be a cruel hoax, with overpopulation ensuring the doom of our species and others.”
  • In her book What Ever Happened to Ecology? , Ms. Mills recounts her involvement in the early environmental movement and her “…painful transition; as priorities shifted human relationships altered and old assumptions became obsolete. Mills also began to devote her intellectual attention to the bioregional movement, ecofeminism and restoration ecology.”
  • Stephanie Mills is a Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute, has been an ecological activist for over 30 years, and has written or edited a number of books including Tough Little Beauties (2007), Epicurean Simplicity (2002), and Turning Away from Technology (1997).

To meet Ms. Mills and get the chance to spend a weekend with her and other environmental leaders at the upcoming Deep Ecology Collaboratory October 21-23, 2016 in San Luis Obispo is going to be awesome!

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